I don't know the speaker, but he certainly seems to know me, and he's talking in the comms channel used by the "c6" corp I've joined (though I haven't actually seen the c6 yet).
"I'm out in Sinq Laison."
"Grab a gas miner! We need some more people to clear out this system we're connected to."
"Oh... um... sure? You have a high-sec exit?"
"Of COURSE we do -- we have static connection to high-sec."
"... you do?"
"Yes. We're over in the class 1."
It turns out that the corp has a number of pilots -- mostly alts and newer players -- living in a class one wormhole. Or at least that's what I'm able to infer; the fleet commander is too busy giving me orders to explain very much background.
"We have an inbound wormhole from a class five, and we've scared off the locals in that system, so we're going to harvest some of their gas. Grab a gasser ship and hurry over!"
This statement gives me pause for a number of reason (not the least of which being the idea that some alts and new pilots 'scared off' the residents of a class five wormhole), but dammit... I've been trying do SOMETHING with these guys, just to get to know them, and if I can't get into the class six wormhole, at least I can do this.
Whatever this is.
It's twenty-five jumps through known space to get to the C1's entrance, and by the time I get there the fleet commander has herded his pilots into gas-harvesting ships and gotten them into the most profitable of the gas clouds in the neighboring system. I follow the obscurely named bookmarks in my corp folder (more on that in a later post), rushing from wormhole to wormhole, and finally land on the cloud, flip on all my modules, and begin gathering up the gas alongside my new fleetmates. The thorax cruiser I've brought in for the task does the job well, and if we happen to get attacked, it's a relatively cheap ship to lose. That's the pessimist talking, as we've never lost a gas-mining ship in our previous wormhole endeavors, thanks to heads-up play and diligent look-outs watching for --
"I've got a unknown Buzzard on d-scan."
Bye-bye. I'm aligning to our exit wormhole by the second syllable of "buzzard", and in warp before anyone responds to the scout's announcement. Conveniently, my hold is full of gas by this point, giving me a second excellent reason to leave.
The first one is the Buzzard, of course. As a covert-ops frigate that can warp around a system cloaked, there are literally only two reasons that ship should ever show up on scans: one, he just logged in; two...
"Looks like he's dropping combat scanning probes."
Yup. I land on the wormhole leading back to the c1 system and realize that it's actually quite wobbly looking. I check my ship's information on the anomaly (which I hadn't done on my rush to come and help out) and realize that the wormhole is critically destabilized due to a high number of ships traveling back and forth through the connection. Any reasonably large enemy ship (or friendly ship, for that matter) would probably destroy the wormhole, leaving the whole fleet stranded in an enemy system, and yet they've brought in a bunch of ships to collect gas.
"Don't worry about the probes," I hear the FC say. "Just keep pulling gas. If you get full up, dump it out to cans. We'll pick them up when the Op is over."
When it's over? I might be a bit overcautious, but I'd say the op was over when someone spotted a non-friendly ship scanning down your unarmed fleet of newbie pilots in a verified hostile system with a tenuous route home.
Whatever. Not my op. I jump back through the hole and align to the tower to dump off the gas. It might be the only gas they actually retrieve out of this op, and at this rate I think they might need the profit to help replace ships.
"The probes are --"
"I've got a tengu on scan."
"Two Tengus, actually."
"Two? I don't... oh, there it is. Yeah. Two tengus."
I jettison the gas into a storage canister and nod to myself. The buzzard isn't a big threat in and of itself, but with two strategic cruisers as backup, the little ship is basically the point of a very jagged spear. Obviously, now is the time --
"Just ignore them," I hear the FC say. "They haven't found us yet. We'll leave when it's obviously time to go."
I look over my ship's fittings. Five gas harvesters. Three ECCM modules. Cargo expanders. Five ECM drones. Not exactly the most intimidating array of firepower. I don't have clearance (apparently) to get into any of the ship hangars in this tower, either, so there are no other ship options here for me -- no way I can help, other than calling out an FC I've never met, in the middle of my first Op with a new corp.
"FC," I say, "Ty's dropped off his gas at the tower. I'm sorry I can't stay longer."
"No problem -- we'll probably be done here in 20 minutes or so, anyway."
Yes, I think to myself. I imagine you will.
With that, I warp back to the wormhole leading back to known space, and try to get as far away as I can before the inevitable screams of the innocent begin.